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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Luke Bryan, Trivium and more...

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, August 8, 2011

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Luke Bryan

"Tailgates & Tanlines"

Capitol Records Nashville


You only had to be within earshot of Tim McGrawís June show at the DTE Energy Music Theatre to know that Luke Bryan is a country comer -- in a big way. The Georgia-born singer and songwriter has hunky appeal and headliner chops, and he comes into his third album riding the momentum of a gold-certified sophomore effort, 2009ís "Doiní My Thing," that spit out a pair of chart-topping country singles, "Rain is a Good Thing" and "Someone Else Calling You Baby." No wonder the guy sings that heís got "a little boom in my big truck" at the start of "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)," the first single and summer party anthem for "Tailgates & Tanlines." But what Bryan also has is good songs -- eight of the 13 here co-written by the man himself. Thereís a slightly more serious tone, overall, this time around, and Bryan demonstrates a knack for fresh perspectives on typical situations. In the soaring "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye," for instance, he imagines the end of a relationship with one final roll in the hay -- and heís not putting us on. "You Donít Know Jack" relates an illuminating encounter with a homeless panhandler, while "I Know Youíre Gonna Be There" puts an ex in a vindictive crosshairs. Bryan gets into vividly descriptive biographical nostalgia on "Harvest Time" and the stomping "Muckalee Creek Water," and even the traditional love songs like "Too Damn Young" and "I Donít Want This Night to End" feel authentic rather than cloying. Bryan is still on the ascent, and itís likely that gold will become platinum well before the "Tanlines" begin to fade.


Trivium, "In Waves" (Roadrunner) **1/2 stars

After effectively straddling the metal-mainstream divide with the melodic thrash 2005ís "Ascendency," Trivium has done its best to confound fans on subsequent releases, the decidedly hit-and-miss affairs "The Crusade" and "Shogun." Those stylistic diversions had some value, however; while "In Waves" finds the Florida quintet playing it straightforward again, it clearly benefits from exploring different directions. The group sounds more refined on these 13 tracks -- still fierce but in a kind of musical lockstep it hadnít quite mastered seven years ago. "Caustic Are the Ties That Bind" flaunts a few intricate changes, while "Dusk Dismantled" and "Inception of the End" bring the crush and "Of All These Yesterdays" hews close to power ballad territory. Itís a musical homecoming that will be much appreciated by the groupís fan base.

New & Noteworthy

Against Me, "White Crosses" (Total Treble Music): This new version of the Butch Vig-produced album that came out in June includes a second disc of acoustic versions and demos.

Army Navy, "The Last Place" (The Fever Zone): The Los Angeles power pop trio issues its sophomore album after soundtrack placements on "Shrek Forever After" and Nick and Norahís Infinite Playlist."

Birthday Massacre, "Imaginary Monsters" (Metropolis): The Toronto synth rockers deliver an EP to tide us over until they finish a follow-up to 2010ís "Pins and Needles."

David Burnham, "One Day" (LML Music): The classical/pop singer delivers a second set of covers plus some originals recorded with TV and film composers Mark Vogel.

Gary Clark Jr., "Bright Lights" (Warner Bros.): The major label debut, via a four-song EP, by the 27-year-old Texas guitar whiz who lit up Eric Claptonís 2010 Crossroads festival.

Steven Curtis Chapman, "Re:Creation" (Chordant Music Group): The Christian sing-songwriterís first album of the decade sports five news songs and re-recordings (re-creations, get it?) of eight of his previous hits.

Steve Cropper, "Dedicated" (429): The Booker T & the MGs guitarist pays homage to his heroes, the 5 Royales, with help from guests Lucinda Williams, Steve Winwood, Queenís Brian May, Sharon Jones, B.B. King and Michigander Bettye LaVette.

Glee Cast, "Glee the 3D Concert Movie Soundtrack" (Columbia): The companion to the film souvenir of this yearís tour features 13 songs -- and doesnít make us wait for "Donít Stop Believiní," which starts the show.

Great Kat, "Beethoven Shreds" (TPR): The fleet-fingered British guitarist takes on a variety of classical pieces, including Beethovenís Fifth symphony, a couple of Bach pieces and "the Flight of the Bumble-Bee."

Gucci Mane & Waka Flocka Flame, "1017 Bricksquad Presents ... Ferrari Boyz" (Warner Bros.): Legally embattled Alabama rapper Mane teams and New York MC Waka join forces and get more help from mates such as Frenchie, YG Hootie, Slim Dunkin and Rocko.

Ace Hood, "Blood, Sweat & Tears" (Def Jam): The third album by the Florida rapper features guests like Lil Wayne, T-Pain, Chris Brown, Rick Ross and more.

The Horrors, "Skying" (XL): The British rock quintet recorded its third album in a studio it built for itself in London.

The Motels, "Apocalypso" (Omnivore): The groupís "lost" album from 1981 resurfaces two decades later, fortified with demos and outtakes.

Royce da 5í9", "Success is Certain" (Gracie): The Detroit MC follows his chart-topping Bad Meets Evil project with Eminem with a new solo album, featuring guest appearances by Travis Barker, Slaughterhouse bandmate Joe Budden, Kid Visish and (what a surprise!) Eminem.

Lea Salonga, "The Journey So Far ó Recorded Live at Cafe Carlyle" (LML/Allegro): The former "Miss Saigon" star blends Broadway, jazz and pop on this concert set.

Michael Schenker, "By Invitation Only" (Store For Music): The Scorpions co-founder and longtime solo artist offers up his version of favorites by Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Nazareth and more.

Soundtrack, "Victorious: Music From the Hit TV Show" (Columbia/Nickelodeon): Series star Victoria Justice is the star of this set, singing all 12 songs -- including the Raphael Saadiq-produced cover of the Jackson 5ís "I Want You Back."

The Throne, "Watch the Throne" (Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation/Def Jam): The long-awaited collaboration between Jay-Z and Kanye West surfaces at iTunes, featuring guest appearances by Beyonce, Frank Ocean, Mr. Hudson and, posthumously, Otis Redding on the single "Otis." The physical CD hits Best Buy on Friday (Aug. 12).

Various Artists, "Now 39: That`s What I Call Music" (EMI/Sony/Universal): The latest installment of the perennially popular series includes 16 established hits and introduces four "Now Whatís Next" up-and-comers.

Various Artists, "The Voice: Season 1 Highlights" (Universal Republic): The TV seriesí big names -- Javier Colon, Dia Frampton, Beverly McClellan, Frenchie Davis and more -- are featured on this compilation, but nothing from the all-star judges.

Dani Wilde, "Shine" (Ruf): The guitar-slinging blueswoman follows up her 2009 debut, "Heal My Blues."

From The Vaults: Culture Club, "Miss Me Blind: Greatest Hits Live" (Fuel 2000); Leon Russell, "Live in Japan" (Omnivore)

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